Spike in healthcare workers on sick leave as health crisis worsens

Aug 26, 2021 | Health, Libby Mettam MLA

New figures obtained by the Opposition show a concerning increase in the number of sick days WA healthcare workers are taking as the health crisis worsens.

The figures show there has been a 17 per cent increase* in sick leave since the WA Labor Government was elected, with the Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAHS), QEII and Country Health Service reporting the biggest spikes.

“There were more than 471,000 sick days taken across the health system from March 2020 – to the end of Feb 2021, up from 397,000 in March 2017,” Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said.

“Of particular concern, workers employed in the Child and Adolescent Health Service took 51,685 days of sick leave in 2020-2021, 11,000 more sick days than the year before. It is also a 39 per cent increase since 2017 when Labor was elected.

“There were also significant levels of sick leave at QEII, which reported a 43 per cent increase between 2017 and 2021 and within the WA Country Health Service, which recorded a 26 per cent jump over the same period.”

In the last year alone, the WA Country Health Service has recorded an extra 10,000 sick days compared to 2019- 2020.

“While first and foremost this is concerning from a physical health perspective for those workers, we know that sick leave can be indicative of a much bigger burn-out problem within the health system.

“We know the health system is in crisis with frontline health workers regularly being asked to do overtime and double shifts and unfortunately that is unsustainable over a longer period.

“The WA Labor Government keeps spruiking its recruitment drive but there is real concern on the ground that in the meantime, the burnout of those already within the system will only continue to get worse.”